Have you ever had a flight where you said to yourself “fork this shit, I’m never traveling again, this isn’t worth it”?
Besides me being super dramatic (again), my trip back home from Quito had me promise to myself that no trip is worth experiencing such turbulence, and I will never fly again unless I absolutely have to.
But don’t worry. I’m already over it, and today I’ve started to look at some flights to the Dominican Republic for (probably) next month. Bachata time baby!
Well, I’m a Libra so I’m allowed to change my mind on things quickly ;)
Anyway, the point is, I was really scared. I have not experienced turbulence like that since 2008, where lights were flickering and flight attendants stopped serving food (then you know it’s real deal turbulence).
I honestly don’t know what causes the turbulence.
They say it is due to the change in the current or pressure of the air.
In my lived experiences and highly thorough observations, airplanes shake when we go through clouds. The thicker the clouds are, the more your airplane will suffer. Next time, look out the window and tell me my observations are wrong ;)
On this merely one hour trip back to Bogotá, clouds were so thick, strong, dark and a lot in quantity, and the airplane was getting hit left and right, trying to go through the thickness of the clouds. It felt like we were on a big giant surfboard, chopping through the waves of clouds. At some point, the plane dropped down what felt like 3-5 meters in the air. My heart dropped too, and my palms started sweating.
I was listening to a podcast. My first reaction was to get those earphones out of my ears (like that will help the turbulence), put them safely back into their case and then into my bag (like they will survive a plane crash), and nervously grabbed the armrest on both sides of my seat (like a double-seatbelt security system).
I learned something about myself from that situation - being orderly and having things organized help me feel better about my ability to deal with a stressful situation.
I also learned something about people at that moment - we are not able to enjoy the ride and let go of what is outside of our control, because we are afraid of what the result may be.
Put another way - instead of enjoying the present moment and letting go of what we cannot control, we are stressing out about the worst case scenario.
During the 5-10 minute turbulence (which felt like eternity), I heard adults screaming, all the while children were laughing and having the time of their life.
We were going through exactly the same situation.
Also, we arrived at the exact same destination: back to Earth, safely.
What made adults so frightened while kids were having so much fun with what was given in the moment?
What if we were able to go through life with the same fun attitude the children have, especially when the outcome isn’t in our control? Like in the movie Big Fish, perhaps.
If we already knew the outcome (good or bad), would we be able to go through the process having a blast?
When we landed safely, I thought, I could have also laughed about the situation and had fun in the turbulence, and it would have still incurred the same outcome.
So today, I invite you to ask yourself,
What are some areas in your life that you worry and stress about?
How does that feel in your body?
What would it look/feel like if you were to enjoy the process instead?
What is the worst thing that can happen if you stopped worrying and stressing out about them?
What are some areas in your life that you are trying to control, when in reality, they do not fall under your locus of control?
What is one strategy you can employ when you catch yourself worrying about the uncontrollable?
I want to end it today with a story of when I tried to be a bad-ass, and took a flight lesson.
Let’s just say, it went horribly.
It was quickly evident to both my instructor and myself that flying a plane was not one of my gifts.
Shortly after the tiniest plane I ever saw took off, he suggested: “Do you want to end the lesson here and just have fun?”
To which I replied, “what do you mean by fun?”
To which he replied with multiple airplane cartwheels in the air. It impressed me and made me nauseated at the same time.
Whenever I feel afraid in an airplane, I try to remember this day.
I don’t know what is going on, but the pilots (are supposed to) know exactly how to maneuver this ship. Like my teacher did.
If that doesn’t help, then try to recall the movie Top Gun: Maverick. Planes do flippy-flops all the time. They even fight bullets and survive. Your pilots must be at least as trained as Tom Cruise.
Hopefully this helps you go through your life with more grace and elegance.